I recently received one of those warm and fuzzy notices from my monthly credit monitoring service. It went something like this: “Dear deadbeat, you have been badly maligned by an inconspicuous collection agency that says you dodged your responsibilities and you owe billions”. Awesome (sarcasm).
These reports rarely give you contact information or full account numbers so you have to turn into the equivalent of .007 to find who it is that wants you to pay money you didn’t even know you owed. Thank goodness for Google.
I found the company in question who shall remain nameless (fine, you beat it out of me: West Asset) and noticed the many, many negative consumer reviews. It seems they have a pretty hefty reputation for harassing and belittling the consumer. I was sure it was probably just sour grapes.
I would have been completely compliant (not an offering I often make) if the man on the other end of the phone had not been so rude and obnoxious. Comments such as, “Do you always dodge your bills?” is completely uncalled for and hugely antagonistic. I’m a peace loving person but already in my mind I was slapping this man in the face. But I digress.
I’d like to say openly that I believe that many, if not most, of the people who owe money are good people caught in a bind. I’m thinking it’s good business practice to speak to people with a tone of respect and common courtesy (there but by the grace of God go you). If I owe it, I will pay it. If I don’t, I need you to listen and work with me. In the world of West Asset, this is a fairytale.
Unpaid debt pretty much covers all branches of office in our government; state and federal. Overdue debt pretty much covers all of Europe, America and many third world countries. And then there’s me.
The amount in question is a little over $700 and was incurred in 2009. Since I don’t even remember what I wore yesterday, I am not too hard on myself that I didn’t have the foggiest idea what this was for.
When I advised the gentleman (and I use the term loosely) that I had never once received a bill, he responded that it wasn’t his problem. When I advised him that I would get back with him once I could figure out the purpose of this alleged hospital visit, he challenged me by asking if I had made so many trips to the hospital that I couldn’t remember what this visit was for. To which I responded: “Bite me!” Not exactly my finest comeback.
I have never appreciated being talked down to, degraded or humiliated. I can do all those things to myself without anybody’s help. To have a third party, a man I’ve never met, talk to me the way this schmuck did (I call ‘em as I see ‘em) enraged me. If I could have reached through the phone I would certainly have ripped his heart out of his chest. That is if he had one.
After more than four hours of voice-mail hell, being transferred to a total of 7 extensions, two doc offices and one hospital billing company, I finally discovered that the debt was for a neck injury I had suffered in 2009. The doc I had seen uses the same billing as the hospital in question and was kind enough to fax me copies of my invoices which proved my account was paid in full. Whew!
This is information you would think the collection company would want to know. You would be wrong.
In speaking once again to the man from West Asset, I pointed out that my credit clearly demonstrates a person who pays her bills on time. To which he responded that it clearly pointed out that I was in fact a flake as I had not paid the bill which was now in collection.
Upon presenting my evidence, Mr. Jackass (probably his real name) advised me that my debt was to his agency and not the hospital or the doctor. They had purchased the debt and he would not honor any conversation I may have had with them regarding the owed monies. I was left speechless.
I tried for 10 minutes to explain that there was no debt and that I could prove it, that it was probably a simple bookkeeping error. The fact that the dates of service matched up as did the amounts owed along with the doctor in question meant nothing to this idiot.
His last response to me before hanging up on me was that it was my problem because they would not release the collection notice from my credit report until I paid them in full all monies owed. Bite me again!
Right about now I’m feeling way too nibbled on. It is now painfully clear to me that I’m dealing with a shyster organization that fronts themselves as a legitimate collection agency. How does this stuff happen (she says as she grinds her teeth)?
And so, I am at the letter writing, nail biting and credit reporting stage. I need this collection off my credit report if I am to refinance my home. I need it off my report just so I can sleep better at night. What I am thinking I really need is to feel this guy’s body under the tires of my car. But I digress … again.
What I’ve learned is this: when you are dealing with agencies that collect debt you should always ask them to validate the debt. If they can’t do it, you most likely don’t owe it. Also check out the statute of limitations of the debt. When all else fails, send a cease and desist letter to the collection agency (certified) with a copy to your credit bureaus.
I’m not really sure how or when this saga will end. If you have ever dealt with a collection agency, you know that it is frustrating at best. I am in the clear, yet my credit remains uncleared. I don’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling about it. It’s hard to fight stupid.
Times like this I wish I had a cousin named Guido. Where is the Godfather when you need him?
Joan Cooper - Oh Tammy – I am rolling on the floor laughing.
Do this: call him back and tell him you are submitting all your records to the California Attorney General’s office with a report of how West Asset has treated you and in fact is trying to ‘shake you down’.
See who is laughting then.
Keep me posted.
Suerae Stein - OMG Tammy – that would put me over the edge! Unbelievable. I just wonder how often these companies get lucky and people just pay whatever they want, no questions asked. I once was billed for supposedly overdue parking tickets after 20 years had elapsed. How could I ever prove that I paid those??? It’s crazy. I’m glad you are getting it all straightened out, and I hope writing about it helped release some of that well-deserved anger!
Rick Gualtieri - Document it all and send it to the whatever credit agency this is listed on. Tell then you dispute the debt and ask for it to be removed. The burden will then fall on the collection company to prove you wrong.
It’s not the quickest process in the world, but I’ve had wrongful items removed from my credit report (I once had a mortgage show up on mine from when I was 13…needless to say not many banks loan out $100k to a teen :).
Maureen - I like Joan’s suggestion too – what a headache, and I’m so sorry this is happening to you!! I managed a building once with a huge credit collections company – every one of them was rude and obnoxious – think it’s a job requirement! Let us know how it turns out!
kellie kennedy - Oh my dear u spent way to much time on the phone dealwith this shister! Yes u go to credit bureau advise them in written letter what has occurred. Never take a call from low life companies again. UN fact I recently took a new home phone number provided by Verizon. Little did I know it was an old number of someone who obviously went bankruptcy. Let’s just say my home message recording is less than polite advising if your any type of credit agency “bite me” wrong number Ans don’t leave anything on recording.
Tammy - Hi Joan, if this were a sitcom I’d be rolling on the floor with ya. Good advice – I’ll do it! Thanks for being here and thanks for posting.
Tammy - Hi Suerae, OFF the edge is more like it. Good grief! The truth is that if it were a smaller amount, I would probably just pay it to get them off my back and my credit report. Isn’t that sad?! I’m still working on getting it all ironed out. I think I need to take some of the good advice offered to me here. Leave no stone unturned, right? Thanks for the support and for the post.
Tammy - Hi Rick, Sound advice, thanks for that. I am in a bit of a hurry only because I have a refi in the works. Think I can kiss that goodbye for the moment. Slow and steady wins the race, right? I’m documenting like a crazed woman and will send it all of to all powers that be. Hope it makes a dent. LOVE that you had a glitch on your credit report that said you had a mortgage at 13. LOL! Awww, bankers; gotta love them. Thanks for reading, sharing and posting. You, sir, are awesome!
Tammy - Hi Maureen, It’s enough to make a person homicidal. Kidding, just kidding. Let’s just say that I hope I never meet this guy in a dark alley somewhere. Will keep you posted. What a ridiculous waste of valuable time. Grrrrrr. Thanks for reading my rant and giving me a cyber pat on the back. Love you for that!
Tammy - Hi Kellie, What a freaking nightmare! My credit matters to me, especially since I’m still reeling from a divorce many years ago. A collection notification brings you down quite a few points. Ouch! I called them, they didn’t contact me. And I had to do some pretty fancy detective work to find them. They never notified me, they just levied a collection on my 3 credit bureaus. I’ve never dealt with such a manner-less low life personality. Maybe an abusive personality goes with the territory. Too bad. If I did owe the money, I would want to speak with someone that would work with me to pay it back. I can only imagine the kind of message you had waiting for you. Terrible! Thanks for reading and responding. It means a lot.
Kellie - I had this happen to me too. Something not true and I wanted it off my credit reports because I knew I wanted to buy a new home. 2 years later and writing to all agencies every few months my issues. BINGO! Off … only took two years! My God what a system. Oh yes my phone recording is less than cordial.
Laura Lee Carter aka the Midlife Crisis Queen - Hi Tammy:
Don’t have any experience in this, but I am curious why you didn’t contribute this to our blog carnival this week…I still could!
Tammy - Hi Laura Lee, let’s hope you never have this experience!! Yes, let’s share this post on the Blog Carnival! Thanks for being here…and posting!
Bern - Yes, overdue lirbray fines can be reported on the credit file if the lirbray sends your account to a collection agency. I have seen them show up on the bureau.On your credit report they should have the agency name that is reporting the debt. If they don’t dispute it with the credit bureau to get more information. If you still don’t get anywhere, put a statement of explanation on your file. Creditors are not obligated to pay attention to those notes, but some do and with such a small dollar amount, they may be more willing to overlook it when you apply for credit in the future.References : Analyst w/a credit card company
Charity Kountz - Oh Tammy – I have been there. Debt collectors are like the scum of the earth. Heck, they’re the scum on the scum on the scum of the earth. It doesn’t get any lower in my opinion and I take great delight in running legal circles all over these douchebags because I know more about consumer rights than they ever will. Don’t pay them – don’t even think about paying them. In fact, report them to your state’s Attorney General and sue them for damages because for every violation it’s $1000. If you need help, check out http://www.creditboards.com. They are some of the most amazingly knowledgeable and friendly people you could ever ask for.